From school calendars to bus routes, here are digital-friendly ways to cover schools

By: David Arkin
November 16, 2023
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Coverage within the school system is some of the most important, most read content any news organization can create.

Whether it’s an update from the latest school board meeting or a photo gallery from the latest class project, schools can be a gold mine of engaging and relevant content.

But with these ideas, you’ll be able to advance your school coverage beyond board meetings.

School calendars

Between holiday breaks, in-service days and early dismissals, it can be hard to keep up with your kids’ school schedule, which makes having the district calendar in hand even more helpful.

To make it easier for family planning, consider putting together a story with that district calendar that can easily be located through search or on your website.

The stories don’t have to be long or in-depth—in fact, one client posted several school calendar stories like this one with a small blurb of text followed by images of the calendar that we collected from the school’s website.

Not only did this particular story do well, it did so well and families kept coming back to it throughout the school year that it ranks amongst the publication’s top stories from month to month.

Bonus tip: With the holiday season approaching, people are going to be searching for those specific winter break dates. We plan to do similar stories extracting those key dates and putting them into an additional story to generate readership through SEO.

Individual school profiles

Even if you’re not new to the area and looking to decide which school is the right fit for your child, families are always looking at how their school is performing.

As annual grade card information is released, news organizations will often do stories on how their district or specific schools performed. But what if you were able to extend that into an ongoing flow of content instead of just a one-off story, once a year?

Instead, consider using this data to profile how each individual school in the district performed across a number of categories including testing, attendance, teacher qualifications and more. The report card information can be used or, in some cases, the state department of education or other affiliated organizations often produce this kind of data annually.

You can take a more narrative approach to the story, like this one, or you can make it an interactive graphic experience like this profile.

Bonus tip: Stretch this content even further, but creating one larger story pulling all of the schools together. For example, if you have done four profiles on each elementary school, do one singular story pulling all of that data together to compare.

Bus route info

Your kid missing the bus can truly put a wrinkle in your entire day. Just like the school calendars, a breakdown or explainer of bus routes can be helpful to put into parents’ hands.

It may require a little bit more work to collect this information from the district, but a detailed list of the schools’ routes, as well as estimated pick up and drop off times, can be a very valuable resource.

Also: When schools change their boundaries, definitely report that information, but it’s also a good idea to create a story every year that maps neighborhoods to the schools in your community.

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